British-Chinese textile designer and weaver, and Swiss design studio Nature Squared’s new chief innovator Elaine Yan Ling Ng’s CArrele tile series set a perfect example of eco-friendly and responsibly sourced sustainable natural waste materials. With her innovative technical solutions to create exquisite, handmade, bespoke surfaces for leading architects and designers, Ng’s CArrele is composed of organic white eggshells discarded in industrial kitchens.
The CArrele collection is a new range of innovative high-performance, handmade eggshell tiles in several colours, shapes and sizes, suitable for indoor and wall applications. Ng’s extensive research into sustainable materials is at the core of her creative role and has led to the development of this exciting new composite that extends the shelf life of eggshells in an egg-loop ecosystem that not only adds practical value to the element but also increases the use of a natural material otherwise discarded as landfill. “The eggshell creates a natural habitable environment for an embryo, providing a robust shelter for growing chicks. Although we tend to associate it with fragility, it is actually very strong and naturally UV-resistant, and the ethereal chalk white colour that we have sourced absorbs natural colours sustainably in fascinating ways, making it a wonderful building material,” informs Ng.
Drawing from the French word carreler meaning to tile or to pave and the periodic symbol for calcium (CA), CArrele is one of Ng’s first projects for the UK-based studio that turns natural materials such as abalone shells, abandoned termite nests, grass and seeds and even stones into sustainable construction material. Ng learned the use of chicken eggshell agricultural waste in medical and dental therapies. She got interested in its possible opportunities. “If solid bio-waste is good enough for the medical industry, that’s proof that it has great strength and stability, and with a change of formula, these properties may potentially be used in other industries such as architecture,” she cites.
The discarded eggshells from local bakeries and kitchens as well as from Nature Squared’s own factory’s eggshell inlay atelier where fragments are meticulously applied to surfaces are collected by craftspeople on the Philippine island of Cebu, where Nature Squared’s production facility is situated. The selected organic white eggshells are then cleaned, crushed and cured into different sizes, from sand to 3 mm fragments. They are further combined with natural dyes to achieve appealing natural tones before the composite is toasted. They are then cut into beautiful design-forward tiles. Ultimately, it was Nature Squared’s intention to divert the eggshells from landfills, where their decomposition contributes to climate change.
CArrele tiles are handmade and come in lightweight square, rectangular and triangular shapes, and in four styles that highlight Nature Squared’s technical expertise and Ng’s signature mix of craft and innovation. Toasted earthy tones range from cream to dark toast brown, while natural dye colours are achieved with indigo, chlorophyllin and madder. Hybrid hues come from a combination of natural dying and toasting. Additionally, there is also a 3D hand-moulded tile.
The CArrele tiles are recyclable, easy to clean and can be applied to walls, including wet areas in bathrooms and kitchens.
To demonstrate the great versatility and natural beauty of CArrele’s eco-friendly eggshell surface, and how it can work for architects and designers upgrading their next project, Ng has also designed a range of minimalist stools and accessories including a tea light candle holder, trays, bookends and paperweights. These assorted home decors will be shown in Nature Squared’s London studio and at selected outlets worldwide.
Image credits: Tracy Wong
About the firm
Founded in 2020 by Paul Hoeve and Lay Koon Tan, Nature Squared is a Swiss-based pioneering ethical design brand that uses material innovation and artisanal skills to transform abundant natural materials that would normally be considered waste into bespoke, handcrafted and sustainable products and surfaces for yachts, hotels and homes. CArrele is the next step in Nature Squared’s journey from handcrafted bespoke offerings to commercial applications.
About the designer
Elaine Yan Ling Ng, nicknamed the techno fairy by Elle Decor, is the founder of The Fabrick Lab, which brings together textiles, electronics, biomimicry, interiors and installations. A British-Chinese materialologist, Ng graduated from Central Saint Martins in London where she earned her MA Design in Textile Futures with distinction. She is a TED Fellow and has been globally recognised by multiple design awards. Ng has worked with Nissan Design Europe and Nokia Design Beijing and is one the top 50 brightest connectors, creative visionaries, influential innovators and disruptive talents in Hong Kong.